In a surreal interview, Rose Marie Cruz – the Portuguese mother living in France who kept her fourth child hidden in a car boot for almost two years – explained that, as far as she was concerned, she was caring for her daughter.
“I didn’t think of it as keeping her in the boot of the car,” Rose Marie told reporters for TF1 French TV channel. “It was more that I kept her in a room that no one else visited. I looked after my family, and then I went and looked after my baby.
I spent time with her. I kept her alive. I never treated her badly. I couldn’t look after her like the other three (children), but I tried to keep her alive. I accepted her. I accept her.”
The bizarre and sad story of how Rose Marie’s emaciated daughter was discovered naked and filthy among garbage bags in the trunk of her mother’s car has shocked Portugal as well as France – where the Cruz family lived. The baby girl, who has been named Serena by the authorities, was found by mechanics after the mother took the car to the garage to be repaired on October 25.
In Brive-la- Gaillarde, no one had an inkling such horror lay behind what appeared to be a “perfectly normal, nice family”.
And while newspapers were quick to suggest that Rose Marie could now face 10-years in jail for hiding the existence of her daughter and failing adequately to care for her, the 45-year-old woman’s defence lawyer Chassagne-Delpech told the press this is “very unlikely”.
“She kept her baby alive,” stressed the lawyer, adding that Rose Marie’s psychological state is now under evaluation – while the family has been separated, with the other children being taken into care. The husband reportedly did not know the child even existed.
Meantime, the baby born almost two years ago is recovering in hospital and has even “started to smile”. It is almost certain that she will be given to adoptive parents once she is fit enough to finally go out into the world.